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Alex Salmond looks to Basque partnership

image captionFirst Minister Alex Salmond visited Bilbao last week

Scotland and the Basque region of Spain are to work more closely together to share their expertise in areas such as renewable energy, ministers have said.

A formal partnership agreement between the two administrations is expected to be signed in the near future.

The move follows a meeting in Bilbao last week between First Minister Alex Salmond and Basque Country President Patxi Lopez.

Mr Salmond said both areas had much to offer each other.

"By sharing our knowledge, both nations can gain from this new relationship," he said.

"Scotland's world-leading role in renewable energy development provides the certainty - not least in terms of business investment - over Scotland's low carbon future.

"President Lopez has expressed interest in working with us to identify areas where the Basque Country can work with us for mutual economic and environmental benefit, and we look forward to agreeing a memorandum of understanding between the two administrations.

"The Basque Country also enjoys considerable fiscal autonomy, with wide-ranging responsibilities over the collection of tax receipts and government expenditure.

"Scotland needs full financial responsibility - giving Scotland the economic powers needed to boost the economy - and in that respect the Basque experience is one that we should examine."

The Scottish government said the first minister invited Mr Lopez to visit Scotland and the invitation was accepted.

Mr Lopez said he hoped to make the links between the Basque Country and Scotland closer.

He said: "In the world that we live in today, it is fundamental to establish alliances in the strategic sectors that we already stand out in, such as renewable energy and our advanced industrial sector."

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